Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

USC Fall Camp: Biggest Takeaways From Mock Game



The Trojans participated in their final practice of Fall Camp, battling it out in an inter-squad match up on the Coliseum gridiron. In a simulated game matching up the first and second string players agains the scout squad, the unit with less privilege and talent came out firing from the start.

“Going to be nice to see different defense instead of seeing same defense every single day,” said Cody Kessler, looking aheaad to USC’s season opener next week.

Discount the actual final 29-0 score because the scout team was gassed and out of legs following a grueling session of strong defense. The main point lies in the fact that going into halftime, the offense had failed to score a touchdown, only leading 9-0 on three Andre Heidari field goals.

The first-team offense led by Kessler struggled to move the football the entire half, looking rather lax coming off the football. With a scout team led by Grad Assistant Ross Cummings, the Trojans were fired up to rally towards the football and apply pressure on the quarterback.

“It’s good preparation for games on the road like Oregon State. You have to bounce back and play better, which I feel we did in the second half,” Kessler said about the offenses slow start to the final scrimmage.

The most revealing drive of the afternoon however, came when Max Wittek entered the red zone but failed to score on first and goal from the 4-yard line. Due to tight coverage, and a great job by the defense reading a bubble screen to Marqise Lee, the offense failed to punch the ball in for a touchdown.

Finding their groove in the second half, Nelson Agholor soared past numerous walk-on defenders for a three-touchdown performance. Agholor took center stage in the scrimmage, salvaging what otherwise was a lackluster performance from the first-team offense.

Quick Hits:

  • FINAL QB STATS: Cody Kessler– 13/22 for 218 yards and 2 TDs/2 INTs. Max Wittek– 15/20 for 231 yards, and 1 TD/0 INTs…Max Browne meanwhile played with the scout team offense. Browne’s biggest blunder came when he stepped up into the pocket firing an intended pass out of his hands into the arms of center Abe Markowitz, who ran for two yards thereafter.
  • Lane Kiffin remained rather mute on the status of Marqise Lee injury, after he fell to the ground on sideline on the same shoulder that he had injured earlier in fall camp. “I felt [pain] that quick second,” Lee said. “They didn’t want to take any chances and they just sat me for the rest of practice.” Lee also said that had this been a real game, he would have continued playing.
  • Marcus Martin left the mock game early as a precautionary measure by the coaching staff, but claims he would have continued to play in a real game. In his absence late in the second half, Max Tuerk switched down to guard playing alongside John Martinez on first-team line.
  • WR Nelson Agholor had an incredible day, catching nine passes for an astounding 250 yards and three TDs. He was the Trojans’ best performer on the day.
  • “Fall Camp is awesome, but at the same time it’s going against the same guys every day,” Kessler says, while calling this his favorite Fall Camp at USC. “We love competing and we love coming out here but at some point, you want to hit someone else on another team, kind of a successful feeling.”
  • The Trojans Scout Team almost pulled off the best play of the afternoon, attempting a reverse-double pass down the field to George Katrib. With the secondary falling for the fake, Aaron Minor pitched the ball back to QB Anthony Neyer who flailed the pass attempt 10 yards short for what would have been an easy score and instant game-changing contribution.
  • In midst of the scout team’s excellent first-half performance: DL Joey Aguello, DT Delvon Simmons, LB Nick Schlossberg and DB Chris Hawkins played outstanding football. Aguello and Simmons put excellent pressure on the quarterback by each racking in more than one sack, while Schlossberg recorded one of two interceptions on the afternoon.
  • The banged up Trojans featured Tre Madden, Justin Davis, Ty Isaac and Buck Allen in the backfield. Madden took the majority of first-teem reps, while Allen and Isaac did not enter the game until the time-sensitive second half. With Silas Redd still on the sideline unable to practice, the need and prominence of depth at running back will certainly be relied upon moving forward.
  • Junior TE Xavier Grimble returned to the field while Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick and Randall Telfer remained sidelined with injury and neither suited up for the mock game. Meanwhile, dual-purpose player Kevin Greene played both TE/DE for the scout team.
  • Tags: Cody Kessler Fall Camp Featured Football Lane Kiffin Marqise Lee Max Wittek Nelson Agholor Popular USC Trojans

    • Trojan_SD

      “defense reading a bubble screen to Marqise Lee”…
      Can’t IMAGINE how they could have expected a bubble screen to Marqise.

      After all, Kiff NEVER calls that play. :(
      Hopefully Kiffin really opens up the playbook this season, because every team in the league is on to his stupid little bubble screens.

      • Rave on!

        Agree completely..I don’t think I can take another season “on the bubble.”

        • http://fansided.com/ Michael Castillo

          Agree, but it’s funny. With Mike Williams, bubble screens were a successful and valuable part of the offense. Now, even with speedy guys like Woods and Lee, you’d think it would be even more successful, but it’s just an alternative to the running game with how often Kiffin draws them up. If Kiffin/Helton dialed them back, they could be exponentially more effective.

      • disqus_5mzWKSTg3O

        It’s a great play to run when you’re running th ball well, but you can’t keep lobbing the ball to Lee for the screen and hope he jukes and break tackles on 2 or 3 guys every time.

    • Greg Vanden Bosch

      Did Ross Cummings actually play in the game, or was he just coaching the Defense?

      • Evan

        No haha He played two years ago, but was just the grad assistant leading the scout team during the scrimmage.

    • guest

      Still pushing for Kessler

    • disqus_5mzWKSTg3O

      Kiffin BS is out at this point. It obvious he’s trying to keep both QBs on campus. Just name Kessler your starter. Wittek had his chance, 2x.